Kayak racks for pick-ups

I have a Silverado extended cab short bed that I want to carry 2 kayaks on. I was considering some sort of bed rack for the rear support and cab support for the front support. I was told by truck supplies retailer that cab racks would have to be mounted through the roof panel and there was not an option for a edge type mount in the door openings. The alternative is 2 bed supports extending up above the roof line and mounting some sort of carrier/support for kayaks on cross bars.

Any ideas or solutions would be appreciated.


Kayak Racks for P/U
I built a truck rack out of two old trampoline legs turned upside down, cut exact size holes in a 4"x4", braced and padded, then clamped on pickup. Worked fine but I hardly ever used it because I didn’t like hoisting kayaks that high. Now I use a bed extender which inserts into the 2" receiver hitch and adjust it to be at the same level as the bed of the truck, thus no more big lifts. I usually haul a 16’ kayak or less and keep a piece of bright flagging tape tied to the longest kayak ends. Also, I only haul with the bed extender during daytime hours.

What I did
on my truck to carry a canoe. Was to get 4 lengths of aluminum angle for the corner uprights. I then drilled a hole in the top of each one to slide a round bar (tube) thru, I use cotter pins each end of the tube to prevent it from sliding out. The angle is screwed to the bed (2 screws each angle). This allows me to put the rack in or out with ease, the holes aren’t really noticeable as they do not go completely thru the bed.

head’s up, DD_dad
When I had a Toyo pick 'em up truck, I made a headache rack out of pressure treated 2x4’s with a bit of scrap carpet over the rung over the tail gate for ease of sliding boats. I made it so it overhung the cab, and had plenty of support for either short boats or tandem canoes, (which I was big into at the time).

Pickups, are probably the easiest vehicles to DIY at rack for. I’ve seen all types, ranging from PVC, to plumbing pipes, to 2x4, to welded square iron.

A new friend recently showed me his rack that his neighbor built for him. Seeing as how you’re in central NC, you might want to know about this one. The guy builds these on the side, and although I didn’t scrutinize the welds, it looked decent. Check it out:


Bascially, ANY small welding shop can make you one of these, if you don’t feel comfortable DIY. The beauty of most of these pickup racks is that if built right, they are easily removable. I made my 2x4 one so that it fit snuggly between the wheel wells, and could be quickly yanked right out with the gate down. Yet when installed, with the gate up, and a couple ratchet tiedowns across boats and rack, it was practically part of the truck.

Truck Rack
Check this out.


IMHO, one of the best racks out there. Carry 5 kayays or 2 canoes, totally bombproof.

The prices will stun you…
You will notice the price on the above rack of $245 EACH and you will need two and then something to hold the boats. I carried my 12’ boats in the back of my 6’ bed just hanging out with a flag till I found a used ladder rack for sale. I still have to get J-cradles or saddles or rollers or something to hold the boats when I want to either take a paddling bud with me or take a long trip where I really don’t want to carry the boat upside down.

You have discovered one of the harsh realities of paddling, that is that sometimes it costs more to move the boats than to buy them…

This works great for me

– Last Updated: Jun-14-06 7:50 AM EST –

I Have a 2003 Nissan Frontier crew cab and short bed. I went through the anxiety of trying to find a bed rack. To get a really good one I was looking at $400-$800. I used to own a Dodge Mini Van and it had rails that my Thule racks fit on, so I found a set of Top Track from Thule and had a local trim shop that hangs bling on trucks and cars install them. This required 12 holes mounted into my roof, but these guys do this sort of thing every day and it was no big deal to them. When finished, I had a total of $320. involved. ($180 for the Cross bars/towers and $65 for the Top Tracks and $75 for the trim shop to install)
Here are some pics of the finished product.
Good Luck.

Did the same thing with my old f150. Plan on doing the same to my Titan.

Pickup rack
I have a Silverado. I built a bed rack out of black vinyl coated steel tube I purchased from a fence company. They also provided the corner clamps, caps etc. I needed. The black vinyl coating is both an appearance plus, and it enables the clamps to hold without slipping. It only takes 5-10 minutes to take the rack apart at the end of the season. I use the closed cell foam kayak carriers, which have a cut out that enables them to mount directly on the 1-5/8" round tubes.

I have driven all over the eastern half of the country with two kayaks, in all kinds of weather, at posted speeds, without any problems.

Material cost was about $150. I have been using this type of rack for the last 7 years without incident.


– Last Updated: Jun-14-06 2:44 PM EST –

Yep they ain't cheap. But I've used all kinds of racks for trucks, from homemade to store bought. The Spring Creek racks are the best out there, bar none. Everything included that Thule and Yakima charge extra for, features other truck racks don't even offer...all included. Their kakyak stackers make the Yakima ones I have on my other truck look like Barbie toys. I have carried 5 kayaks easily on these racks with no problem..I wouldn't even think about trying 5 with my Yakima stackers. Just doing 3 kayaks with the Yakimas is such a pain in the a$$ that I'd almost rather not go paddling. Customer service is exceptional at Spring Creek. I screwed up a bolt on mine readjusting the height...they sent me a new bolt and plate overnight express...no charge. Most other racks I've used need some kind of material added to keep the boats from sliding around...not these bad boys..included and more durable than any pool noodle, piece of carpet, etc. you would want to use. No I don't work there, nor am I involved with them in any way. I just believe a good product ought to get boosted whenever the opportunity arises.

GMC Sierra with these:

– Last Updated: Jun-14-06 3:20 PM EST –


I use these for the hulls (two pairs required for each yak)and they fit perfectly on the black truck rack from eBay.


I secure the entire thing to my truck bed (the eBay models from aalio come custom fit) with C-clamps. Thus, did not have to drill my truck bed, and can quickly remove for getting truck in and out of garage, etc. If I was in a high theft area, I would place a cable lock through the rack (has small side holes for this purpose) to secure it so no one could steal. Or could drill them in.

Pricey, but bascially the same costy as a fancy Thule or Yakima system when you get the saddles and everything factored in.

I use ratcheting clamps and attach directly down to my bed hooks (in corner of truck bed). PLastic yaks, I have.

Here is my same query in Archives:


DD_Dad. Good luck.

Find the Junk Yard
or Autoparts Recycling Establishment that handles the trucks from the Phone Company and/or Cable Company. I got a rack that will hold all the kayaks and canoes you could possably stack on it for $100. All aluminum and built like a tank.


Here is a different way
Now this is gonna sound real strange to a lot of you.

I have my Chevy 3500 Dually 4 door and no racks. A truck this size is pretty much a requirement where I’m from if you want water at the house, or can afford to pay someone $35.00 0r more for 1500 gallons to be delivered. (no city water or well) Soooo - I have one of those funny looking farm 425 gallon tanks in the back. I throw an old tire on the top of the tank, a blanket on the cab, kayak on top and tie it down. Looks damned funny, but it works like a charm. If I work it right, I fill the tank on the way home for an extra smoooth ride home.

Yes - - I’m cheap - - And I have a design background too.

Not all that different

– Last Updated: Jun-21-06 1:21 PM EST –

I use the same principal for the one I built. A support bar in the rear of the bed, and foam blocks on the cab.

The support bar is made of 2" PVC plumbing, based on a Jeep YJ rollbar. PVC "wye" joints halfway down make the Y. The straight base of the Y is attached to a 2x4 that rest in divider slots in the bed liner; the diagonal branch of the Y rests against the bottom of the tailgate. Downward force (80-lb canoe, & straps) holds it in place. Very solid, in/out in two minutes, and nothing permanent/drilled.

I have an alternate design to work on one of these days with a rolling support bar (easier loading).

I had a picture but looks like it got deleted. Can take another if it would be helpful to anyone.

best and cheapest
Find a used lumber rack like contractors and carpenters use.

They’re made of stout steel, can carry more than your truck can haul, and can be found for $100 or less on the used market.

Added bonus: you can tell the wife you’re buying a lumber rack for the truck so you can more easily complete those home projects she’s been wanting.

sierra pickup rack
im trying to come up with a rack for my sierra extended cab truck. i had a yakima system for my dakota extended truck, but that doesn’t fit on this truck. was thinking of using 2by4’s and making a rack in the bed. the bed of this truck has a bed liner in it and plastic on the rail of the bed. so, no holes or places to attach anything. using pvc piping sounds alot lighter than wood. id be hauling two 11foot kayaks with the combined weight of 100 pounds. any diagrams of wood or pvc racks that might work for me would be appreciated…

use thule bars and cradles
I use a set of thule bars and cradles on my GMC Sierra extended cab to carry two kayaks. Get the 65" or 72" bars and you have plently of space.